What Makes A Disc Illegal In Disc Golf?

All discs used in tournament play must meet the conditions laid out in the PDGA Technical Standards. 

An illegal disc is any disc that has cracked or has a hole in it, any disc that is questioned by a player that has not been approved by the Director, and discs that have been modified after production to such a degree that it affects its original flight characteristics.

But if your disc has sustained a couple of bumps and scrapes and you want to fix it up, don’t worry! This doesn’t apply to discs that have been worn during play and have been moderately sanded to smooth out scrapes or molding imperfections.

However, if the discs have been sanded excessively or have been painted with a considerably thick material then they become illegal as this may affect its flight characteristics. 

All discs used in play must be uniquely marked, except for mini marker discs. If you use an unmarked disc you will receive a warning on your first throw, and one penalty throw for every subsequent throw.

Discs with devices added to them that make them easier to find (such as lights, ribbons, or chalk dust) are only permissible during evening play or tournaments held in snowy conditions.

Are You Playing With Illegal Discs?

You will only really be questioned if you are playing with an illegal disc during tournament play, not in recreational play – unless you’re playing with people who take their recreational Disc Golf seriously!

And while a disc can be considered illegal if another player believes it is and calls it out, it only becomes illegal if the disc hasn’t been approved by the Director.

This rarely happens even in tournament play. 

Initially, you’ll be able to tell if your disc is legal when you first buy it, as it will be clearly displayed as PDGA approved. Then you should check your discs to see if you can find any cracks or perforations.

This is important, because if you are to be found using a cracked disc in tournament play you could receive two penalty throws. If you’re called out on this by another player you can appeal the decision to the Tournament Director.

As your disc can also be considered illegal if it’s unmarked, you should also always sign your name and PDGA number on the bottom of all your discs so there’s no confusion.

This is also crucial if you’re playing in a tournament against a player who has the same disc as you. The last thing you want is confusion and arguments on the course over who the disc belongs to!

When Should I Replace My Discs?

It makes sense that the more you use your disc, the more wear and tear you’re going to see, regardless of where you’re playing. As you sustain more and more cuts and scratches you’ll notice your disc getting lighter.

You may also notice that your disc takes a more unstable flight path the lighter it gets. 

If you’re playing disc golf maybe once or twice a week, this transformation will happen more gradually.

But if you’re a professional player who plays practically every day, you’ll find this transformation happening more dramatically and you may find yourself going through more and more discs.

But some players don’t see this as a bad thing, as it just makes the selection of discs in their bag more varied and their play more versatile!

Are Some Discs More Durable Than Others?

When it comes to Disc Golf, not all discs (and the plastic they are made from) are created equal. As is the case with any piece of sporting equipment, the pricey items tend to be the most durable and are a worthy investment if you’re serious about the sport. 

If you want your discs to stand the test of time, then choose a disc made of premium plastics. These plastics are incredibly durable, with the ability to better absorb impact than some other plastics as they tend to be softer.

This also makes them better at withstanding a few scratches and cuts.

However, while ultra durable plastics are recommended, because they are quite pricey you certainly don’t need them for all your discs. However, ultra durable plastic is great for drivers where the discs are going to land at high speeds and take quite a beating.

Putters made of grippier plastic work well, as they are better at grabbing chains and also feel pretty good in your hand.

How to Repair Discs

As we have mentioned it is possible to repair your golf discs, as long as you don’t go overboard and make too many modifications so that your disc becomes illegal.

Major alterations could seriously affect its flight characteristics which is absolutely not allowed. For example, the leading edge of a disc can be no smaller than 1/16th of an inch.

So if you were to sand down the plastic to a sharper edge, not only would this alter the aerodynamics of the disc but the disc would be much more dangerous too.

However, you can still moderately sand the disc to smooth out normal wear and tear. You also can’t make excessive moderations that make the disc thicker.

Of course, moderations are not a big deal in recreational play as long as you don’t make moderations to the disc that make it dangerous. 

There are also specific rules laid out by the PDGA for the manufacturers of discs. All discs must follow these technical rules and undergo a testing process before they’re approved.

There are a couple of ways to make minor repairs to a disc. These include taking a lighter and slowly rotating the disc over the flame on the affected areas. This is a good method for taking care of small scratches and cuts.

Taking a nail file to your disc every now and then is also a quick way to smooth out problem areas on your disc. You can also use medium grit sandpaper (about 220 grit) to quickly buff out rough edges.